As a clergy wife, Grace has spent a lifetime on her best behaviour. Now, following the death of her husband Bardolph, she is enjoying the new-found freedom to do and say exactly as she pleases, usually to the new - female - vicar, Sarah. The return of Grace's eccentric missionary sister Ruth prompts some disturbing revelations, which force her to confront Bardolph's ghost and the truth of their marriage. At the same time Sarah reveals some un-clergy-like credentials of her own to Grace's therapist daughter Jo.
Entertaining Angels asks whether God can be trusted to do anything right at all, "Or is the whole thing a divine exercise in trial and error?"
Entertaining Angels, Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, until Saturday
Some divine comedy one-liners in this play by Richard Everett about the vicar's wife who doesn't need to be a kindly tea-maker any longer on account of becoming a widow.
Helen Withers perfectly paces her performance as Grace, who is poised to start behaving badly, but still can't quite get her holy ex-husband out of her hair. Indeed, the 'ex' keeps turning up before exiting left into the greenhouse on a marvellous set designed by Judy Talbot that comes complete with its own tree.
Graham Underhill plays the late Rev Bardolph, who describes being in the hereafter as "so-so." Not a great comfort to grieving Grace - although there's worse to follow.
Somebody in the audience thought the play was rather like a slightly darker version of the Vicar of Dibley. And I guess that's right. For me the first act was a bit on the long drawn-out side although the laughs are never far from the surface, not least thanks to the expert wheelbarrow manoeuvring skills of Grace's eccentric sister Ruth, who's arrived back from her missionary job in Africa.
Deb Relton-Elves has enormous fun as Ruth, each outfit change more zany than the last, and so it’s left to Anne-marie Greene (Jo) and Emma Withers (Sarah) to be the straight women.
I can't give too much of the plot away as it will spoil the story. But most of the seats were taken at Monday's night's performance and so this isn't one to dilly-dally over booking seats.
And even if this is Dibley territory, it turns out still waters run very deeply indeed.
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